Courage and Conviction a Day at a Time

My friend Dorothy is someone I have known since we moved to this community in 2000. We met through mutual friends and have maintained our friendship through numerous changes and trials we have both encountered. Like my friends Terrie and Phyl were, Dorothy is not only a friend but a spiritual advisor. We share recovery from alcoholism and the wonderful opportunities and surprising challenges it can present.

We both struggle with what she calls “the big I” and what I refer to as “ego inflation.” It is a pitfall for us all, but especially for those with addictions. Wrong-sized egos can lead us down the path to a drink too quickly. We help keep each other grounded and our egos right-sized. I rely on Dorothy to listen to me vent when I need to and to offer reasonable suggestions when I seek guidance. We can share the joyful and messy nature of life, dreams realized as well as broken, and our sometimes frustration with—but mostly appreciation for—our husbands, our children, and our pets.

Like any good spiritual advisor, she has struck a nerve with me more than once. When I calm down and stop rationalizing and justifying, I know she is speaking the truth I need to hear. And helping me find my own truth within.

We both got sober in our mid-20’s and have long-term sobriety. Dorothy since 1974, and me since 1989. I fully appreciate that Dorothy remains gracious and grateful and doesn’t take daily recovery for granted. It is the example I need, especially when I become complacent.

When I met Dorothy, she owned a bookstore in our community. She was a well-respected business owner and volunteer. A truly genuine soul, she has a way of making a difference wherever she goes. She was being pulled to a new calling—the seminary and becoming a pastor. She would tell you she didn’t heed the call immediately, but today it is her life’s work and she continues to impact all communities to which she belongs, faith and other.

She is one of the most faith-filled people I know. Not because she is a pastor who quotes scripture and preaches sermons, but because she acknowledges her own humanness so humbly, shows other humans decency and dignity, and follows God’s will for her with total conviction and courage. And she did that all long before she became a pastor.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, Dorothy wrote this prayer and sent it to me in an email:

“God, thy will be done and if you can see it clear to keep my body free of all cancer cells,
I would greatly desire and appreciate that. In loving gratitude, I pray for peace
each day in dealing with this challenge.”

It brought me comfort in those fearful days and months, and it remains a comforting prayer I say daily.

Not only has Dorothy always been supportive of me in my recovery, but also in my writing pursuits. Quite busy herself, she finds the time to show up and support me when she can. Her and her husband Harvey came to a recent poetry reading I participated in. She pointed out that I had written poems to mark important events in her life and she displays them in her home office. It is an honor to write for others, yet more of an honor to have my writing granted significance by them. It gives me a confidence in myself that I need to keep writing and sharing my work. Thank you for that Dorothy and for so much more!

Here is a recent picture of the two of us:

We have both moved homes since we met and now we find ourselves in the same neighborhood. When we can fit one in, we go for a walk together. Regardless of where Dorothy is, however, I always know I can rely on her to help me find my own place in this life.

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